martes, 21 de abril de 2015

Mara gangs may "gang up" to fight state in El Salvador

El Salvador's two main criminal gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and M18, were said to be planning coordinated moves to resist the security forces' recent actions to fight crime, through a range of terrorist tactics including increasing murders. Police intelligence and intercepted phone calls were said to have revealed plans to "create an alliance of the gangs," that would show the state crime's firepower and influence. The pact would particularly increase attacks on civil servants and members of the armed forces, the website elsalvador.com reported on 20 April. The country has in recent months seen a sharp rise in criminal violence, largely for the termination of a 2012 ceasefire the gangs had declared between themselves and with the state and civilian population. Spain's El País observed on 21 April that the ceasefire, which curbed murders but not other crimes like extortion or kidnappings, lasted about 15 months. Its breakdown recently prompted the state to react, including through forming a rapid reaction force, which appears to have fanned the ire of the gangs: a subdued state of war was now effectively in place between the state and the Maras. In recent incidents, 10 suspected gang members were shot dead on 18 April in a shootout with the army. The state prosecution service and presidential office stated that day that the suspects died after about 15 or 20 gang members opened fire on army personnel in the locality of Ulapa in Zacatecoluca. Two members of the armed forces were separately shot dead that weekend and another shot dead at a bus stop in the capital on 20 April, El Salvador's El Mundo reported. The country's Security Commissioner confirmed on 21 April that a rapid reaction force of some 1,200 members was being formed to "cleanse" the "50 most violent districts" of gangs. Hato Hasbún said the unit would work in coordination with the army; "it is not just about putting men on the ground. There is an intelligence strategy," El Mundo cited him as saying, without stating where he was speaking.

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